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Heatwaves in India put 80% of the population at risk: Study

Deadly Heatwaves India; Currently, heat waves in India are increasing in frequency, intensity and lethality, placing a burden

By groundreportdesk
New Update
First days of June surpass the 1.5⁰C limit

Currently, heat waves in India are increasing in frequency, intensity and lethality, placing a burden on public health, agriculture and other social, economic and cultural systems in the country.

According to a study published in the journal PLOS Climate by Ramit Debnath and his colleagues at the University of Cambridge, the severity of these heat waves, exacerbated by climate change, could hamper India's progress towards achieving its Development Goals. Sustainable (SDG).

India is committed to achieving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include poverty eradication, good health and well-being, climate action, and economic development.

The current assessment of climate variability is not fully capable of indicating how climate change-related heatwaves may affect progress on the SDGs. With this in mind, these researchers analyzed India's climate vulnerability using the Climate Vulnerability Index (CVI) with various indicators of socioeconomic, livelihood and biophysical factors to assess a comprehensive index.

They used publicly available data sets on state-level climate vulnerability indicators from India's National Data and Analytics Platform to rank the severity of the situation.

The researchers then compared India's progress on the SDGs over 20 years (2001-2021) with the peak season death rate relative to the period 2001-2021.

Researchers have found that Heatwave has undermined SDG progress more than initially estimated and current assessment metrics cannot adequately capture the complexities of India's vulnerabilities to climate change. For example, in the HI estimate, the study reveals that almost 90% of the country is vulnerable to the impacts of heat waves.

Current heat measurement system is insufficient

According to the CVI, around 20% of the country is highly susceptible to climate change. Similar impacts were seen for the national capital, where HI estimates suggest almost all of Delhi is at risk of severe heatwaves, which is not accounted for in its recent state climate change action plan.

However, according to the authors of this study, "This study shows that heat waves make Indian states more sensitive to climate change compared to previous CVI estimates.

Heat waves in India and the Indian subcontinent are become recurring and long-lasting, and the time is right for climate experts and policymakers to reassess the metrics for assessing a country's climate vulnerability.

This underscores the need to develop comprehensive vulnerability measures through cooperation and partnership international".

The authors' further state, "Heatwaves in India are becoming more severe, putting 80% of the country's population at risk, which is immeasurable in the current climate vulnerability assessment. If this impact is not immediately addressed, India can slow down its progress towards sustainable development goals."

Heatwaves threaten India's development

Heatwaves in India are not only affecting the long-term future of the country but also the short-term consequences of them have been largely ignored.

Studies have found that heatwaves are straining India's economy and public health resources, and by 2050, over 300 million people will be affected, and by 2100, the quality of life for nearly 600 million Indians will be lowered.

The lack of a physical risk measure for heatwaves can also hinder the progress of multiple Sustainable Development Goals. A case study conducted by researchers found that Delhi's residents experienced some of the most challenging conditions, with almost the entire National Capital Region reaching danger levels on the index during a heatwave.

Mitigating and adapting to heat-related health and energy burdens will be essential to maintain social cooling practices, especially for those in affordable housing with fewer resources to cool themselves.

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